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Newspaper Watch for month of September 2007.  For latest  newspaper watch (India), view the homepage
 
30 September 20007

The Winners

Do winners emerge only from privileged, elite families? Nope, meet the real winners from the soil in “Levelling the Field” in Indian Express- A must to read. “Footballer NP Singh’s mother worked as a labourer to ensure he kept playing while cricketer RP Singh’s father say he took a risk by sending him to a sports college” Father of the captain of Women Hockey team, who comes from a very humble background in the State of Haryana –“ We have seen difficult times. There were days when I didn’t even have Rs. 100 in my pocket. I would often have to ride back on 25 km on my bicycle with my wife to tenf to the fields …I spent everything I had. And now Mamta (portrayed as Komal Chautala in super hit bollywood movie- Chek De India) has made that struggle worth it…”.

Yes, winning amidst all odds is the best part, it inspires all. They certainly are the lucky hardworking, talented ones. But why 'lucky'? Guess- how many make till the end, how many dreams perish every day only to see that other considerations over-ride merit, how many leave the field for others who are “well- connected”? Their struggle will never make it to the front page of a newspaper, not glamorous enough?

Mahatma Gandhi-Least we forget

“..Never forget that prayer is your great support. That individual or nation which gives up without adequate reason a healthy practice of a long standing stands to lose heavily. Morning and evening prayers provide us the sheet anchor to save ourselves from being drowned in the mighty billows that surge around us in modern times--provided we understand their significance and consciously and intelligently perform them.”(August 1918).
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29 September 2007

Employment woes

Job creation - a typical case of market failure? Now, the Indian government has intervened but at a rocketing cost of Rs. 200 billion per year by extension of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) to all districts of the country(Hindu). NREGA gives a legal guarantee of 100 days of employment in a year to a rural household. Any performance appraisal of   present NREGA? Outlook visited Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, two supposed success states of implantation of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and the status report is dismal:

    Study shows that 30-60 per cent funds are being misused or diverted.
    Workers continue to face payment delays or are not paid the minimum wages.
    Erratic work and local caste favouritism means workers still prefer migrating to cities.
    Time lag between project approval, implementation; wasteful, 'duplicated' spending.

“…Governments can keep throwing money, but if the vision is about 'inclusive growth', they are missing the target somewhere. This could just as soon become another nightmare for the administrators”. A must to read-There's No Guarantee by Lola Nayar (Outlook. 10/10/2007). And now extension of the same scheme to remaining 265 districts would translate into a drain of a well-meant intention. Anyone listening?


Mahatma Series- Least we forget

“  One can do manual labour. But there is no part in Kathiawar, where peasants can employ themselves for all the 12 months of the year. They get work during the rainy reason, and so, in a region where there is only one crop in a year, what should the people do for the remaining 8 months? Should they emigrate? It is God’s law that man must work for 8 hours everyday all the year around. Where what is not done, starvation is the inevitable result. India suffers from starvation, since 22 crores of her people have to remain unemployed for 6 months. Starvation cows down the spirit of the sufferer, and can it ever strike a man, who has no enterprise, to ply a spinning wheel? When will he do so? He will start turning the wheel, when his King is turning it, when his Dewan is turning it. It will not affect our agriculture. It will go on, but it requires many improvements. The spinning wheel is only a subsidiary industry that will supplement the income from agriculture. I am not deluding you in my plea for the wheel. If you want to make India free, if we want to do something for the poor, and if we believe that our masses, who are crashed under the grinding wheels of poverty, must also share with us the fruits of freedom, then, I assure you, none else will be able to point out any other universal supplementary industry for our teeming unemployed millions… (Mahatma Gandhi. February 1925)

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28 September 2007

Survey Wonder

Is Delhi the best place to live in India? “Saddi Dilli is best place to live in India, says E&Y” (Economic Times), Delhi is best place to live in: Study” (Times of India). Yes, if one goes by finding of the report by consultancy firm- Ernst & Young.  How? Best infrastructure, by way of better roads, better metro network and abundant manpower have brought accolades for the national capital. (Times of India). What about power & water woes in Delhi, pollution in river Yamuna, killer blueline buses (public transport) - didn’t hear about it? Most important – women are not safe in this capital city. What’s the point of having better roads & better metro network when half your population does not feel safe even in public places, public transport.

Further the city police is not gender sensitive, evident from the recent eve teasing incident in DelhiUniversity campus. The lead story of MetroNow –‘Be Safe’- A girl heading to her dance class was eve-teased & had to call son of the chief minister of Delhi for help (note – she didn’t call the Police).Turn over, next page gives Girls Safety Guide..What she does for safety…Railways plan special train for women..(MetroNow). And yet Delhi-The Best city to live in India for women? How was this E & Y survey conducted- its methodology- the newspapers didn’t carry it. Wonder why? And even if one accepts the survey result, the question arises - Given Delhi with its problem areas is the best place to live in India then  what about the worst places?

Point to ponder: With many Special Economic Zones (SEZs) coming up around Delhi, how about a Special Women Zone (SWZ)- the best place to live safely in India for women!

Mahatma Series- Least we forget

“.. I do believe that we shall have to teach our children the art of self-defence. I see more and more clearly that we shall be unfit for Swaraj for generations to come, if we do not regain the power of self-defence. This means for me a rearrangement of so many ideas about self-development and India’s development. I must not carry the point further than I have done today. You are an earnest seeker. I am most anxious that you should understand this new view of Ahimsa. It is not a fall but it is a rise. The measure of love evoked by this discovery is definitely greater than ever it was before” (Mahatma Gandhi. July 1918)

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27 September 2007

Cartoon Watch

On the cartoon front, the hot topic of cricket is dominating most newspapers – Asian Age & Deccan Chronicle are carrying the same 123 cricketing cartoon on their editorial page. Also focusing on cricket are Rajasthan Patrika (India becomes champion without any coach),  Virat Vaibhav (welcome of netas & board members in stadium),Dainik Bhaskar (counting of money by team), Dainik Tribune (neglect of hockey over cricket), Times of India (Kalam & 20-20, test match), Punjab Kesari (Dhoni & Rahul Gandhi).

Yes it’s cricket all the way- with wining of T20 trophy- Bombay high on cricket @20/20, sensex @17,000 (New Indian Express), euphoric welcome for Dhoni & Co (Statesman). But hang on- politics amidst jubilation (Free Press Journal), netas hijacking cricket’s moment of glory (Hindustan Times), hockey players fume at bias (Statesman).
 
“After shameful display of “celebrations”, the media has now woken up. Post-the media jamboree, it has now woken up to the neglect caused to other sports in the country, what with the news of hunger strike to protest the step motherly treatment, despite hockey team bring back home the Asia cup..” (Free Press Journal).

Other have concentrated on various topics- Myanmar (Hindu), nuclear deal (Indian Express), Musharraf (Jansatta), Leak & proof (Free Press Journal), BJP & Karuanidhi (Indian Express), inflation (Hindustan) IAS officer jailed (Hindustan)

However Telegraph, Statesman, Amar Ujala, Dainik Jagran, Pioneer, Hindustan Times, Economic Times and  MetroNow did not carry any Indian cartoon.

Mahatma Series- Least we forget

“ You can’t fast against a tyrant, because that would mean a kind of violence on him. You may demand punishment for disobeying his orders, but if he does not punish you and makes it impossible for you to disobey his order, and be liable to punishment, you have no right to deliberately impose a punishment on yourself. A fast can be undertaken only against a loved one and that, too, not for securing any rights but for reforming him. For example a son may fast against a drunkard father. The fasts which I had observed in Bombay and Bardoli were of this type. It was to reform those who loved me that I had undertaken them. But I may never fast against one who not only does not love me but regards me as his enemy. Do you understand me? You should keep patience…” (Mahatma Gandhi. 1924)

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26 September 2007

Delays

The Supreme Court has expressed grave concern over the lynching incidents in Bihar. “This is because many have started thinking that justice will not be done in the courts due to delays in proceedings. This is indeed an alarming state of affairs & we once again request the authorities concern to do the needful before the situation goes out of control.” (Indian Express. Times of India25/9/2007). Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan had recently stated that 2.59 crore (or 25.9 million) cases were pending disposal. Of this, 98 lakh are in the High Courts and 43,000 in the Supreme Court.

The take of Tribune today- “The Supreme Court has rightly voiced concern about the indiscriminate judicial delays and held that the recent lynching of 10 thieves in Bihar is a manifestation of the people’s increasing erosion of faith in the judiciary. What Justice A.K. Mathur and Justice Markandey Katju said on Monday leaves no one in doubt that things must improve if the people’s faith in the judiciary is to be restored. Unfortunately, there is no accountability at any level of the judiciary…The government alone cannot be blamed for the mess. What is the contribution of individual lawyers and judges to speed up justice?”(Editorial).

The same paper contained the news that the Supreme court was moved today in a contempt petition against the Chief Secretaries of all the States for not implementing the apex count’ verdict on the appointment to fill vacant posts in lower judiciary even after five years. Nearly 3000 vacant vacancies are seen as one of the reasons for delay in disposal of cases (Tribune).

Mahatma Series- Least we forget

“..That Shri Manmohan Ghose had stated that courts often become instruments of injustice. Even if justice is done, what a tremendous expense and delay it costs! Justice has become a dear commodity because lawyers like Manmohan Ghose are rare among us. He used to accept without any fees so many cases both civil & criminal…

May I give you a bit of my experience? During my career as a lawyer, I had settled 75% of cases outside the court by mutual agreement, and I was considered an expert in bringing about a compromise. I had made a name for impartiality. So, when anybody got a notice from me, he would come immediately to me and ask for a private settlement. Many clients therefore clients, therefore, had to engage two solicitors. If they did not succeed with me, they would at once run to other solicitors. I used to accept only clean cases..” (Mahatma Gandhi. December 1920)

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25 September 2007

Loan Bazaar

Country’s largest housing financial company has lowered its interest rates for customers availing home loans at floating rate in interest. The catch - loan has to be taken on or before October 31 (Economic Times). This might be good news for those who wish to buy a new house. The advertisement of Bank of Baroda informs that since the bank is celebrating its 100 years, hence the offer in festive season - 0.25% concession in rate of interest & 50% concession in processing & documentation charges. The catch- for a limited period! (Indian Express). But what is news from small time loan agents/companies/etc.? Here several advertisements continued to make appearance in various Hindi newspapers that have the capacity to entice the common man. 

 “(Diwali offer) no guarantee no commission loan in easy installments personal, properties, unemployment, project, mark sheet loan 30,000,00/- 30% discount ..” (Dainik Jagran)

“ (Regd.) 30% concession 1% interest return in 7 yrs 8th pass unemployed male & females come without hesitation & take money 1,00,000 to 25,00,000/-…” (Dainik Bhaskar)

“ 8th pass unemployed take loan 1-5 lakh, 25% concession, return in 7 yrs, 1% interest, agents also invited..” (Hindustan)

“Cash all credit cards immediately cash American Express too immediately no interest for 50 days…” (Amar Ujala)

“Cash all credit cards get money immediately no cheque only cash cash in 2 minutes…” (Punjab Kesari)

“Government private businessmen Track loan for any kind of loan at low interest rate meet…” (Punjab Kesari)

Mahatma Series- Least we forget

“Today money is God. But can money always retain this high position in this world? Does Satan always hold a high position? Those who talk in the fear of Lord have certainly never accepted this idea. Satan & money are bad fellows serving each other’s interests. And some scriptures even say that money creates many enemies. I do not mean to say that you should not have money. You also do require it. But everything has its place in life and looks well only there. There should be no room in society for a man who does no do any productive work. We have fallen from out estate and have forgotten to assign the right value of money. And when we degrade the soul and put money in its place, we fall from our path. It only creates trouble for us, when we give to money a value greater than it deserves. .” (Mahatma Gandhi. January 1925)

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24 September 2007

Way to Dark Ages

In the capital of buzzing trillion dollar economy- India, majority of women don’t feel safe. The survey by National Institute of Criminology & Forensic Science revealed that 50 of cent women feel unsafe in buses, 80 per cent of women interviewed at market places said they felt unsafe at the place, 72 per cent for colleges, 60 per cent for shopping malls. The Study’s recommendations included that women should always move in groups if possible (Asian Age). This recommendation itself reveals the pathetic state of security level for women in the ‘Transforming economy”.

In other words, Delhi has accepted deteriorating law & order for womenfolk. But what about police, can’t they help to make Delhi safer place for women? The molestation of some college students by aspiring policemen in DelhiUniversity’s North Campus exposed the gender sensitivity of the Delhi Police. What next? A recommendation - women should not venture outside home & stay indoors?

Indeed, a step towards the dark ages in the age of globalization. What is most depressing that all this is happening despite presence of all women powerful team in Delhi - President of India, Chief Minister of Delhi and President of the Indian National Congress, which is in power. What about women security perception in other places in India?

Mahatma Series- Least we forget

“What need can there be for us to serve princes and potentates? If we go for their palaces, the door-keepers will perhaps let us not even approach Their Highnesses. Nor need we serve millionaires of India. Service of India means service of the poor in India. Our public life means nothing more and nothing less than service of God the visible, i.e., the poor. If you want to serve them, go into the midst of the poor, with God’s name on your lips, and turn the spinning wheel. Taking part in public life means serving your miserable poor sisters. Theirs is a very wretched condition…

As things stand, when a public servant goes to village, the residents feel as disgusted as they would, if a revenue collector had come to rock-rent them. Why do they feel so? You must understand that you go to villages to give not to take. .

Was our mother mad that she used to spin? When today I ask you to spin, I may appear mad to you, but it is not Gandhi who is mad but you. You have no feeling for the poor and no knowledge about them. And yet you persuade yourselves that India has become prosperous and sing the glories of that prosperity. If you want to lead a public life, you should spin and wear Khadi. If both you mind and body are pure, you will become Swadeshi in the real sense” (Mahatma Gandhi. January 1925)
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23 September 2007

Exclusively Yours

47 hours of original audio tapes and footage of Mahatma Gandhi were given by National Gandhi Museum in New Delhi to the a little known private production company for two days without a legal undertaking to guard against its damage or duplication. In fact no permission was sought from even the Information & Broadcasting Ministry. Remember, private companies have to pay lakhs of rupees to obtain even a single minute footage of such historical nature (Hindustan Times).  But why rules were not followed in this case? Gandhi is now seen as a commercial enterprise. Yes, for that rules are no barriers? His principles are mostly limited to ritual seminars, speeches in urban areas.  A must to read “Rare Bapu tapes given to pvt firm” by Srinand Jha in Hindustan Times.

Mahatma Series- Least we forget

“It is true that I have often been let down. Many have deceived me and many have been found wanting. But I do not repent of my association with them. For I know how to non-cooperate, as I know how to co-operate. The most practical, the most dignified way of going on in the world is to take people at their word, when you have no positive reason to the contrary” (Mahatma Gandhi. December 1924).
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 22 September 2007

Propagation

The Indian liquor industry is worth nearly $2 billion. Liquor Landmark-India is the largest whisky market consuming 60 million cases in 2006, overtaking the United States with 40 million cases.” With the government and the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) maintaining a strict vigil even on surrogate advertising, liquor bands are increasingly using music to connect with consumers” (Hindustan Times. New Delhi. Pg 25). Incidentally, the same page of Hindustan Times also contains an ad-“The Chivas Life Chivas Regal 12” which is included in a block that contains views of Chairman & Managing Director of a Private Company. The catch- ‘CD & cassettes’ appears in the ad on extreme left hand side in one of the smallest fonts, not easily visible to the human eye compared to “The Chivas Life Chivas Regal 12”. No prizes for getting this right- Is ‘Chivas Regal 12’ the name of a branded whiskey or a CD!

Moreover, what to do with features & articles that appear in various papers on liquor? Nothing, as they educating Indians on the varieties, brand of liquor! Really! But that an ad’s job-isn’t it? Keeping wondering!

Mahatma Series – Least we forget

“ Liquor is not at all a tonic for health.  I have seen men steeped in wine and gone mad. One of them had lost even the sense to distinguish between wife, sister, and mother. All drunkards come to the same plight. I once went to see a drama of daamaan. I was then very fond of going to the theatre. I am talking of my taste 40 years ago. In the first scene there is a song on liquor. It showed how a small wine-glass led the man to ruin. I wish you would listen to this Voice from above, which I am relaying…but even the high caste people drink-some openly in shameless insolence and some stealthily. On my way I came across a liquor-booth and I heaved a sigh: ‘Good God! Am I destined to always to see such sights of grog shops!’ The government may pass in future a prohibition law. It certainly can. But why wait till then? Why not do right now, what it is in our hands to do? If we ourselves stop going to liquor shops and the vendors earn nothing they will not continue to keep their shops open to oblige the public with their service of liquor. If we reform ourselves in every respect, India is bound to benefit..."  (Mahatma Gandhi. April 1925)
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21 September 2007

Celebrations of defeat?

On 10th May 1957, the nation paid homage to those who fell in the revolt against the British. The highlight of the celebration was a mass rally called by the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee at which the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru paid a moving tribute to the heroes of 1857. Silence was observed for two minutes after the meeting. At the meeting he said: “Let us today remember those who lit the flame of freedom that never went out and those who kept the flame burning through the generations till under Mahatma Gandhi’s leadership we won our independence.”

Year-2007. Has the time come that India should also celebrate its defeat by joining in the 1857 victory celebrations by the British?  The plaque-“To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the bravery and distinguished service of the First Battalion, the 60th, the King’s Royal Rifle Corps at Meerut and Delhi..” has been given for insertion in key places in Delhi, Meerut by the group of Brits who are expected to tour other places of the revolt and celebrate. The take of Amar Ujala (lead story)-“ The British from England greening our injuries of defeat”. Hindustan Times (front page)-“Meerut rejects Britain’s 1857 victory plaque”.

Mahatma Series- Least we forget

“ I condemn the British Empire but admire its courage and tenacity. The Englishman is a patriot through and through…How is that mere lakh of Whiteman are able to lord over thirty-three crores of Indians? The reason is that we have become slaves even mentally. If we tell them,’Brothers, we are not going to remain your slaves any longer’, they would either leave the country or stay on as its servants. But the first step to gain the power to give this notice to the Englishman is that we must fraternize among ourselves, among all our different communities- the Thakores, the Bhils, the Muslims, and the Scheduled castes. We must treat them as our brothers and never look down upon them.” (Mahatma Gandhi. October 1920)

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20 September 2007

Discrimination Still

The British society is increasing fractured along ethnic lines and the government departments are not doing enough to tackle discrimination- is the final assessment of the Commission for Racial Equality. The Commission has not minced words- “The simple fact is despite the progress that has been made, if you are an ethnic minority in Briton you are still more likely to be stopped by the police, be excluded from school, suffer poorer health treatment and live in poor housing”. This has been reported by the London Correspondent of Asian Age -“Racial divide deeper than ever” but the report is incomplete- as it ends with an incomplete sentence- “The language may have”.

Anyways, the Indian Workers Association (IWA), one of the oldest ethnic organization has initiated a lobbying campaign with the MPs in the House of Commons to ensure that all” racist controls” on immigration into Britain are removed.(Asian Age). Discrimination is easy to expose & remove if it’s blatant but what to do with subtle discrimination? One can feel the latter but can’t expose it. Surely, it’s a very hard task to break the prevailing superiority complex of many there (a result of imperial history) but worth a try!

Mahatma Series – Least we forget

“..English are a great nation, but they try to suppress the weaker people if they come in contact with them. They themselves are very courageous and have borne untold suffering so they only respond to courage and suffering. Partnership with them is only possible after we have developed indomitable courage and a faculty of unlimited suffering. There is a fundamental difference between their civilization and ours. They believe in the doctrine of violence or brute-force as the final arbiter. My reading of our civilization is that we are expected to believe in soul-force or moral force as the final arbiter and this is Satyagraha. We are groaning under the sufferings, which we could avoid, because we have swerved from the path laid down for us by our ancient civilization…” (April 1919)

“..The people of Europe have no doubt political power but no Swaraj. Asian & African races are exploited for their partial benefit, as they, on their part, are being exploited by the ruling class or caste under the sacred name of democracy. ..” (September 1925)”

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19 September 2007

The Big Leak

The World Bank and United Nations have announced that they are setting up a system to help the developing countries to recover stolen assets. Robert Zoellick, World Bank’s president is spot on to state - “There should be no safe haven for those who steal from the poor”. It would involve building capacity of developing counties to track stolen money going overseas. The Bank intends to assist countries in devoting recovered money to proper development use “to make sure it is not stolen twice” (Asian Age).

United Nations Convention against Corruption went into effect in December 2005, obliging countries that ratified it to cooperate. Still, there are 98 countries that have not ratified it, including Canada, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan and Switzerland (International Herald Tribune.17/9/2007).

Why has India not ratified it? Is corruption a way of life here? Everyday the common man has to fight this menace often with helplessness as he has no power. Power comes to him only during elections, but then what happens afterwards is an open book. Yes, Right to information (RTI) was seen as a tool to fight corruption but given the lackadaisical attitude of the authorities, it has lost its sheen. 'Nothing changes'? All boils down to the need for effective governance.

More to the 'system'- Does the ‘system’ also include recovering the looted assets by the former imperial powers? What about bribes in international contracts, are they not a drain? Why not include financial institutions situated in developed countries in the ‘system’ as they end up receiving this money? And not to forget the world famous auction houses. Last and not the least, the media- both in developed & developed countries will have to play a vital role in efficient working of the ‘system’.

Mahatma Series - least we forget

Account of work

“Well, if you but act as I have advised, my dream would no longer remain a dream but become a reality. You will have economic equality in the country only along the road I have pointed out. Perhaps you will not understand this today; but note my words and remember them when I am dead and you will say that what this old man of seventy-five said was true. This is not a prophecy I am making; I am saying this on the basis of my lifelong experience. A time will surely come when nobody will listen to your long speeches; nobody will ever attend your meetings, for preaching sermons to the people without following those principles in your own lives does not work long in society. The people will ask you for an account of your own work, will ask you what you yourselves are doing, before they listen to you…” (May 1947)

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18 September 2007

Weather prediction

 
Weather forecast for Today? Majority of the newspapers don’t carry the weather forecast on their front page & some don’t carry it at any page. Is weather so unpredictable? But majority newspapers of Hindi & English, most faithfully carry prediction of your luck everyday (based on zodiac signs)! Luck is more predictable than weather!  Anyways take a look at the weather forecast of Delhi in leading newspapers:

 Pleasant morning. A warm & humid day. Chances of rain in some areas of city. High 36°C, low 25°C. (Hindustan Times. Front page)

Mainly clear sky likely to become cloudy with the possibility of thundry developments. Max 36.6°C, Min 26°C (Times of India. Front page)

Partly cloudy sky with possibility of thundry development towards evening/night. Max 36°C, Min 26°C (Hindu. Page 4).

 Mahatma Series - least we forget

Message sent by Mahatma Gandhi for publication in the first issue of Independent:

“In wishing you success in your new enterprise I would like to say how I hope your writing would be worthy of the title you have chosen for your journal; and may I further hope that to a robust independence you will add an equal measure of self-restraint and the strictest adherence to truth? Too often in our journals as in others do we get fiction instead of fact and declamation in place of sober reasoning. You would make the Independent a power in the land and a means of education for the people by avoiding the errors I have drawn attention to.” (Mahatma Gandhi. 1919)

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17 September 2007

Belief

 Many articles, letters, and cartoons have been appearing in various newspapers on the controversial contents of affidavit filed by the government in the Supreme Court regarding Sethusamudram project and Hindu God- Ram. Can religious belief be proved in a count by proving existence of one’s God?

 “As a member of the Law Commission, my view is that we are of course a secular country by the dictates of the constitution…it certainly does not mean irreligion and demands from the state without due regard for the established religious beliefs. Whether a historical figure or not, Ram has existed for millions of years in the hearts of countless Indians. The legend of Ram was not created by any of the epics associated with him; those epics just recorded in their way what existed since antiquity in people’s beliefs..”- Tahir Mahmood (Hindustan Times).

 “Ram is not just about faith. He symbolizes transparency in public affairs, sanctity of contract and accountability to people..” (Editorial. Times of India).

True, are his ideals followed? Take a look at the front page of the same paper-“ Rs. 31,500 cr (Rs.315 billion) of PDS grain stolen in 3 years. 53% of wheat, 39% Rice diverted to Mkt”.  And the front page of Hindustan Times- “Mid day meal faces starvation. Govt plans to double price of foodgrains meant for children’s welfare scheme”. It says it all.

 Least we forget- Mahatma Gandhi

Indeed, Mahatma Gandhi is most relevant today. On second of October this year, Mahatma Gandhi will appear in most newspapers, as the United Nations & the world will celebrate his birth anniversary as International Day of Non-Violence.

From today, a new series is being initiated on Gandhiji’s take on issues, values that are faced by us today.

 

Mahatma Gandhi’s belief- How was Ram Sethu/ Adam’s bridge built?

“..It was Ram-nam (name of Ram)that made stones to float on the sea and form a bridge. It was Ram-nam that enabled an army of monkeys to make the mighty Ravana lick the dust. It was Ram-nam again the preserved the chastity of Sitaji, though she remained captive of the demon Ravana for many years, and it was that same Ram-nam that kept Bharatji alive for 14 years, since no other word would come out of his lips than that Name. That is why Tulsidas has stated that Ram-nam should be taken in order to throw out the dirt of the Kaliyuga…We should attune the tongue to the heart first and then taken Ram-nam..”.(Source: Mahatma Gandhi. April 1925. Day to Day with Gandhi [Secretary’s Diary] by Mahadev Desai. Vol VI)

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16 September 2007

The Train Stops here!

Railways are an important transport mode since the time of the British Empire. The railway route, in kms (thousand) has increased from 53.6 (1950-51) to 63.3 (2005-2006) while the total passenger kilometers (billion) has increased from 66.5 to 616 during the same period (Economic Survey 2006-07).

Railways have retained their desirability, even in the jet age. Ask Bajrang Lal to know their importance. Now who is this Bajrang Lal?  Due to his relentless efforts for decades that today the people of a small village in Rajasthan- Chelasi, can board the train which now stops at their village. How? The villagers have themselves built a railway station so that the train can stop right there! To know more about determination and never die spirit, a must to read - "Jhunjhunu’s Master Builder” by Lokpal Sethi in Pioneer.” The article ends– “Remember,Bajrang Lal is no politician, entrepreneur or social activist. He is just one faceless Indian going about his life somewhat differently”.

Least we forget

“ .It cannot be necessary for me to insist upon the importance of speedy and wide introduction of railway communication throughout the length and breadth of India...”- wrote Lord Dalhousie in his memorable minute to the court of Directors of the East India Company way back during 1853.

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Cricket Update

15 September 2007

Cricket is again becoming popular, thanks to the thrill of 20-20! But surprisingly majority of the newspapers (English & Hindi papers) did not bother to wait for the nail-biting result and served stale news to their readers. “India stumble to 141/9 against Pak” (Hindustan Times), India 128-7 in 18 overs (Tribune), India 141/9 in 20 overs vs Pakistan 24/1 in 3.3 overs (Times of India), Indian innings shaken in beginning (Hindustan), India shaken against Pakistan (Dainik Bhaskar), Uthappa & Dhoni give respectable score (Dainik Jagran), Uthappa comes good Pakistan 29 for one in four overs (Hindu). Interestingly, Punjab Kesari has not carried any report/news on this match!

The exceptions were three English Newspapers who served the result fresh- India ‘bowl-out’ Pakistan (Statesman), Today’s Result India win (Pioneer), Twenty20, India-Pak, Three-Zero (Indian Express, front page) along with a photograph of Indian cricketers celebrating.
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14 September 2007


Top Ranking
Orrisa’s Sukinda valley inhibited by 2.5 million people and the industrial town of Vapi, inhibited by 71,000 people in the State of Gujarat are among the top ten polluted areas in the world. Vapi, exemplifies a region overwhelmed by industrial estates- more than 50 industries poison the local soil and groundwater with pesticides, PCBs, chromium, mercury, lead and cadmium. “mercury in Vapi’s groundwater is 96 times higher than WHO health standards”. Whereas 12 mines operate in Sukinda without environmental controls, leaching hexavalent chromium into drinking supplies. The survey was conducted by the Blacksmith Institute (Free Press Journal). Shockingly, Vapi’s inclusion in the ten most polluted areas of the world does not come as a surprise for Gujarat as it has been in this infamous league for quite some time now. It has been on the central pollution control board’s radar as one of the critical areas of the country since 1990 and work has been on to contain the pollution.” I concede everything is not hunky dory, but it is not be as bad as is being made out in this report”-Member secretary of Gujarat Pollution Control Board. (DNA). Really? Does it imply- It’s bad not worst, it’s in top ten but not the first amongst the top ten most polluted sites in the world, so why bother?

Point to ponder- Is pollution not present elsewhere in the country- polluted groundwater, soil, rivers..? Some would say true to some extent, but not so much as Vapi & Sukinda, so don’t bother mentioning it. In other words, the trillion dollar economy does not care for health of present & future generation, what to talk of the eco-system?
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13 September 2007

 State Bank concedes

The Chairman of the largest bank in India has conceded that Financial system has not been able to do enough and the divide between have & have nots in India has widened into a chasm with evidences of public unrest and violence. “There are issues within issues …A more needs to be done quickly or else we would be trampled”: he warned. (Times of India).

 Least we forget:

All India Rural Credit Survey’s important recommendation was setting up of a State Bank of India as ‘one strong integrated State-partnered commercial banking institution with an effective machinery of branches spread over the whole country for stimulating banking development by providing vastly remittance facilities for cooperative and other banks, and following a policy which would be in effective consonance with national policies adopted by the government without departing from the canons of sound business’. Following government’s acceptance of this recommendation, the Finance Minister on December 20, 1954 announced in the parliament the decision of the government to assume effective control over the Imperial Bank as the first step towards creation of the state Bank. Later the government introduced the State Bank of India Bill in the parliament which was passed in May 1955.

Surely, it’s been a long journey for the State Bank of India to concede that Indian Financial system has not been able to do enough! But why?
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12 September 2007

 Loan Mela

“ ..The bank advertisements, including of those of Imperial Bank, now appearing in vernacular papers are so clumsily worded as to be incomprehensible to readers ignorant of English..” (Sinha.1927). What is the state today?

Take one - Apart from banks, small financial companies and even individual are players in the Indian Loan Bazaar. Surely the common man will be lured to take loan by following enticing small classified advertisements that have appeared in two Hindi newspapers- Punjab Kesari & Dainik Jagran. The Catch- Majority of them have no address detail but only mobile numbers. Now does that convey anything?

 Easy Life on credit card. Good news to get immediate cash. Sit at home & cash at 5%..

 10000/- to 10 lakh (1 million)

*without income proof

*one year banking loan

*loan on loan

*loan on credit card

 25% waived 15% discount unemployment  1,00,000/- 5, 00,000/-...

 Loan giver Company gives paise, doesn’t take paise, all kinds of loans in few hours..

 Without guarantee to 8th, 10th unemployed 0.5 million to 40 million property projects, agriculture land, brick furnace small big industries 6% yearly..

 Dial phone get loan…loan guaranteed no commission …
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11 September 2007

Sense & Sensitivity

The two day conference at Punjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth in Ankola will be remembered for a long time for the insensitive remarks about farmer suicides in the region of Vidharbha in the State. The Union Textile Minister, Mr Veghela had remarked that farmers were themselves blamed for their plight unlike their counterparts in his home state of Gujarat, were lazy. The Chief Minister of Maharashtra had also rejected the demand for waiver of loans to farmers in Vidharba (Economic Times. 10/9/2007). Naturally their comments have drawn Vidharbha farmer’s ire (Hindu), “Shame, minister, suicide is no joke”(Asian Age. Lord Meghnad Desai. Front page). Our chief Patron, Lord Desai is right to state-“.. the dead are not a vote bank. So the minister and the chief minister of Mahatma Gandhi’s party can laugh..”. Yes, the party of the trillion dollar economy continues unabated. Even the national press has not taken this issue seriously. The supplements of the leading papers are still obsessed with the just concluded fashion week. And surprising while scanning leading Hindi newspapers like Hindustan, Punjab Kesari, Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar, there is not even one reference to what has happened in Punjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth in Ankola. Such is the state of apathy!

If  Union Textile Minister’s version is correct, why advertise the recorded telecast of  the talk by Shri P. Sainath to the Members of Parliament on Lok Sabha Television  on “Farm Crisis: Why have over one lakh farmers killed themselves in the last decade?”. (Indian Express, Hindu). Sainath’s regular investigative articles in the Hindu and his book have exposed the tall claims by the State. What more is to prove of deplorable plight of farmers of Vidharba than regular suicides?

 Least we forget (1934):

 “ In view of relief granted to farmers elsewhere the proposal to grant such a relief to farmers in India cannot be condemned as a communal measure. If voluntary debt conciliation fails, the state would be justified in suitably reducing both the accumulated interest and the capital debt. It would be desirable to make a distinction between large and small proprietors. The strongest case exists for the reduction of debts owned by peasant farmers, owing and cultivating 10 or 20 acres or less. The case for the reduction of debts owned by cultivating tenants is equally strong” (Brij Narain. Prof. of Economics. Lahore)
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10 September 2007

 How green was it?

 Looking for green news? Take a look at the front pages of the two leading English newspaper:

 “Government plans mega forest project: Rs. 5000 crore (Rs 50 billion) scheme to plant trees on 6 million hectares (Times of India).

 “ City’s (Delhi’s) green lung to turn concert jungle: RK Puram forest, the size of two Lodhi gardens & largest green belt after ridge, will house babus (Hindustan Times). Why should 123 acres of green belt be sacrificed to build only 492 houses for senior bureaucrats at a huge cost of Rs. 6 billion? How about low cost houses in far off non-green area for the privileged lot? And the rest of the money can be used for more afforestation!

 No prizes for getting this right- possible take of Mahatma Gandhi on above!

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9 September 2007

Caring Touch?

How much do the family, society and government care for widows in India? Take a clue from Usha Rai’s cover story:  The poverty & neglect faced by windows in West Bengal is driving them to seem refuge in Vrindavan, a town in Uttar Pradesh famous for temples. Strangely, District magistrate & officers of West Bengal are not even aware of widows leaving West Bengal for Vrindavan. And now even young widows are coming because the city provides opportunities for survival and livelihood- donations and charity earning Rs. 2.50 to Rs. 3, (if they come twice a day, its Rs 6) and some uncook rice and lentils by chanting bhajans. To know more about their state, must read “Why widows go to Vrindavan” in Tribune. Surely, it’s not the first story to appear on their struggling life but definitely the block on “steps to improve their lot” makes it stand out.


Point to ponder= what about  widows of Vidarbha region, whose husband committed suicide (due to agrarian or non agrarian reason), widows of soldiers in the India Army who committed suicide on duty or off-duty…Do we really care?
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8 September 2007

 Long way home

Today, an advertisement by Haryana Police has appeared in Hindi in Dainik Bhaskar, DainikJagran with an optimistic claim -Haryana women Police’s forward steps in race of ‘Women Empowerment’- and reminded that the last date for application for recruitment of Haryana Women Police is 10th September 2007. It’s a welcome step but how far have the steps reached the target of women empowerment?

 Yesterday, Haryana Police had place 4 large-sized ads in Amar Ujala for recruitment of 227 male, constables (Operator) in Telecommunication wing, 485 computer operator constables (male), 100 buglers constables (male), 46 mounted armed police (map) constables (male), 121constables (sportspersons) (Male - 97 & Female - 24), 1 Nalbandh constable (Male, ESM).

 Hang on; there is no gender equality in recruitment even in non- combat areas as sports, desk jobs (computer operator, Operator in Telecommunication)!  Wonder why? Further, why can’t women be efficient buglers constables…? It seems it’s a long, lone journey towards women empowerment.
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7 September 2007

 Literacy

Tommorow is International Literacy Day, evident from the advertisement placed by National Literacy Mission, Ministry of Human Resource Development in many newspapers, both in Hindi & English. This ad carries a photo of an old man & a woman reading with a young boy along with seven bullet points about literacy. Have a feel of the first three highlights-

    Two third of India’s population is now literate.
    Three-fourth of the men & more than half of the women’s  population can now read & write
    Growth of literacy has overtaken the population growth- a decrease in absolute number of non literates for the first time since independence.

 Not an achievement to rejoice as India has still the highest number of illiterates in the world- 304 million (aged seven plus) and it seems that eradication of illiteracy is not still not a priority area for the policy makers. Proof? Must read –“India has the most illiterates” by Parul Chandra in Asian Age, for details.

The area missed by Parul is the quality of adult education and its results. The literacy contrast between rural women (43.1%) & urban women (72.9%) is extremely disturbing which needs immediate attention. Last Word- Mere allocation of funds is not enough; the key is its effective implementation. True, but why repeat it again & again!?
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6 September 2007

Inclusive Growth?

The Deputy chairperson of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia has made it clear that did not subscribe to the view that the accelerated growth has benefited only a small section of the people on the top of the pyramid, but there was an urgent need to make the growth process inclusive, Statistics reveal that the percentage of population below the poverty line was coming down be one per cent point for the past few years but that was not enough (Tribune).

Why not enough, if high economic growth has benefited all equally! Why aim for making the growth process inclusive if it's already so? What about unequal sustainable development? Remember, not long ago, the scholarly Prime Minister had stated- “…India cannot become a nation with islands of high growth and vast areas untouched by development.Where the benefits of growth accrue only to a few. This is good neither for our society nor for our polity….”. However scanning through the newspaper reveal that the contrast between rural & urban India is increasing, and this is taking a toll.

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5 September 2007

 Strange Maths

Performance evaluation of poverty eradiation programmes is in, though there is no consensus on actual number of poor in the country! Vijay Sanghvi in a lengthy article –“When statistics hide the truth” in Tribune is not off the mark when he says-“ To say that government spent trillions of rupees on the anti poverty programmes is misnomer. At the most it can be said that trillions have been allocated but actually only a fraction of it reached the poor..”.

Proof? ”After a study, the Planning Commission concluded that for delivery of each one rupee the state has to spend Rs. 3.60 as delivery expenditure”.

However there a problem now- How did the writer conclude the following from the above quoted Planning Commission study- “..In other words, of every hundred rupees allocated for this scheme, Rs. 72 goes for the administrative and delivery expenditure. Of the remaining Rs. 28, it is matter of guessing as to how much is siphoned off and how much is actually delivered...” (Tribune). A Puzzle, indeed?

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4 September 2007

Cheers at 130 ft

The recently launched Bollywood movie- ‘Ram Gopal Verma ki Aag’ is a poor remake of old Bollywood hit-Sholey and is the biggest disaster of 2007. (Economic Times). Nevertheless, scenes from Sholey are still all time favourites. Remember young drunk hero- Veeru, who climbed up the water tank to commitsuicide.   Fortunately Basanti agreed to marry him and suicide was cancelled.

Now meet a Real life drunk  'Veeru'! He is not a young drunk lad, in love with a village girl, but a 60 year old drunk security guard! He climbed up the 130 ft mobile tower in Hisar (Haryana) as he was unhappy with his family over a small dispute. People requested him for record six hours to come down, but in vain. So what made him come down? Not Basanti, but Liquor! Yes, liquor was sent to up to him and after a peg at 130 ft, he came down! (Dainik Bhaskar front pg, Dainik Jagran page 5). Alcoholism is a big problem in the country of Mahatma Gandhi. Despite legal curb on liquor advertisements, they are a common sight. Wonder why?

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3 September 2007

SBI- Pure Banking Nothing else.

A new State Bank India (SBI) ad has appeared on the front page of many newspapers both in Hindi & English, featuring a smiling rural woman grinding grain, The ad in English claims-“We give people more than a great bank. We also give them hopes for a brighter future”. But look on the right hand side of the ad- “Pure Banking Nothing Else” (Times of India). Surely, SBI is the largest bank in India, but is it more than a great bank?  The last ad of SBI claimed –“We also give them dreams and aspirations” (Hindu. 28/8/2007).

Point to ponder- Are hopes, dreams and aspirations a part of Pure Banking? Hang on, ask the Vidharba farmers. Indian Express has reported the woes of a 35 year old Vidharba farmer who committed suicide. Yes, he took loan State Bank of India seven years ago. Now, some would say, why blame the bank if the farmer was not able to repay? Because SBI is ‘more than a great Bank’ and gives ‘hopes for a brighter future, dreams and aspirations’!

How about giving details of amount of loans disbursed and outstanding NPAs for both agriculture and industry in the last thirty years in the next ad! Did defaulting industrialists commit suicides like Vidharba farmers? Nope, wonder why?

September 2007- Newspaper Watch